Biden supporters urge NH voters to embrace unusual write-in campaign

State officials don't expect "a huge delay" in having to hand-count the ballots.

January 8, 2024, 1:33 PM

Tallying the results on primary night in New Hampshire might not go as quickly as in years past, with thousands of write-in votes expected to be cast for President Joe Biden in the Democratic contest -- all of which will need to be hand counted.

But New Hampshire Secretary of State David Scanlan reassured WMUR's Adam Sexton that he doesn't expect significant delays.

"I would expect that the results are going to be coming in before the night is over. And I don't expect there's gonna be a huge delay in those results because there's a major write-in campaign," he said in an interview with Sexton on Sunday.

Currently, the New Hampshire secretary of state is having "internal discussions" on whether all Jan. 23 primary results will be released at the same time or if Republican results might go first due to delays on the Democratic side, given the expected volume of Biden write-in ballots, Scanlan told WMUR.

Scanlan's office has asked for more volunteers to help out at voting sites, he said.

He indicated that an incumbent president running in a primary race usually results in low turnout, but it's unknown how Biden's unofficial write-in campaign will affect how many people cast ballots on Jan. 23.

In the Republican race, meanwhile, Scanlan said he anticipates "fairly large" turnout.

The latter race -- in which former President Donald Trump is running against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and others -- will be the second time voters get to make their voices heard in the Republican primary, after the Iowa caucuses on Jan. 15.

Trump maintains a large lead in most primary polling, but in independent-leaning New Hampshire, Haley is a much closer No. 2.

The Democratic primary in the state has been mired in controversy ever since national Democrats decided to boot New Hampshire from its historic spot as the country's first primary, arguing that the state isn't representative of their voters or the country.

When New Hampshire didn't move the primary as required, the party stripped the delegates it would have awarded -- making the Jan. 23 contest purely symbolic, though locals say the results could still shape public perception.

Biden said he won't officially be on the ballot. But, because he faces long shot challengers like Minnesota Rep. Dean Phillips, a push has emerged to ensure the president wins with write-in votes regardless while Phillips (and author Marianne Williamson) are pushing for a breakout moment that could fuel their own bids even if it won't earn them delegates needed to ultimately win the nomination.

PHOTO: President Joe Biden speaks on his economic policies at the Wisconsin Black Chamber of Commerce in Milwaukee, Dec. 20, 2023.
President Joe Biden speaks on his economic policies at the Wisconsin Black Chamber of Commerce in Milwaukee, Dec. 20, 2023.
Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images, FILE

On Saturday morning, Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey spoke to a crowd in Manchester, New Hampshire, encouraging attendees to participate in the Democratic primary and back Biden.

She said it was "imperative" that "we do everything that we can to have the strongest showing for Joe Biden on Jan. 23 to send a signal -- not just to the great people of New Hampshire, but to the people across this country about what needs to happen."

Kathy Sullivan, a former Democratic state party chair and an organizer in the Biden write-in campaign, was also in attendance on Saturday morning. She outlined specific steps that primary voters will need to take in order to make sure their ballots are cast for the president -- reflecting the unusual challenges of educating the public on such an effort.

Organizers like her have also suggested they feel some pressure to make sure they can pull this off.

She said there had been "no support from the campaign itself, no support from the Democratic National Committee."

"As long as we're able to show a significant showing for Joe Biden, I'll be happy," she said.

With no official Biden campaign in the Granite State, a few Democrats have dusted off their old 2020 Biden signs and placed them in their front yards.

KR Epstein, another Democratic Biden supporter in the state, told ABC News this weekend that write-in organizers plan to flood polling locations with volunteers to help educate people.

"We're trying to get as many people as possible at the polls holding signs so that when voters show up they see, OK, I need to write in Biden and there's no confusion by the time they walk in the door," she said.